Obama plays up defense credentials with stop in military-heavy southern Virginia

President Obama on Friday will look to tout his commander-in-chief credentials during a campaign swing through southeast Virginia, a region with a heavy military presence.

He'll campaign in Norfolk, Va., the headquarters for Navy's East Coast fleet and home to some of the service's largest shipyards in the region, on the first day of his two-day bus tour through the important swing state.

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The surrounding towns of Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads and Suffolk also have a large military and defense industry contingent within its voter base.

Virginia, particularly the southeast corridor of the state, has traditionally been conservative bastion for Republicans due to its military-heavy population.

However, the state has slowly shifted toward the Democrats in recent years, with Obama winning it in the 2008 presidential election. Polling show that this cycle Obama has a small lead over presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the state.

Obama is striving to play up his record on defense and national security issues to his advantage in the run-up to November.

But congressional Republicans see Obama's recent track record on defense, particularly on the coming automatic defense cuts in the so-called sequestration plan, as a huge liability in the state.

In a statement issued Friday, ahead of Obama's visit, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) slammed the president on those proposed cuts.

"Will the president share with Virginia families his plan to replace the looming defense cuts that would leave us with the smallest Navy since 1915?" Boehner said.

Boehner also used the president's visit to tout a House GOP bill calling for the White House to disclose details on the effects of sequestration on national defense.

House Republicans plan to introduce the legislation, dubbed the Sequestration Transparency Act, next week.

Sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the bill "requires President Obama to submit a report detailing his administration’s plan for implementing these military cuts."

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) have introduced similar legislation in previous weeks.